Investigation links foreign elites in Thailand to money laundering

CIB Comissioner Jirabhop Bhuridej, Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) is currently investigating foreign nationals residing in Thailand under elite visas, suspected of engaging in shady business transactions and money laundering. This investigation was initiated following the disclosure of 52 year old Chinese suspect, Chen, who utilised a Thailand Privilege Card visa to reside in the country and launder substantial sums of money for call centre scam gangs.

According to CIB commissioner Jirabhop Bhuridej, Chen is a pivotal figure in money laundering for illegal scam gangs in the region. He was apprehended at a luxurious residence in the Phasi Charoen district of Bangkok on April 28, alongside a Thai gang member, 44 year old Anan in the eastern province of Chachoengsao.

The police seized 11 million baht in cash, two computers, seven mobile phones, eight bank account books, 13 cash cards, and five cars, among other assets, totalling approximately 42 million baht, during the raid. It was discovered that Chen managed digital wallets with around 70 billion baht in circulation.

Chen’s arrest, alongside Anan, was the result of an extensive investigation that led to the arrest of five call centre gang members last year. This gang had created a fraudulent website on the CIB Facebook page to deceive individuals and extract their money.

Further investigations reveal Chen and Anan were responsible for managing digital wallets used in illicit transactions and converting digital assets into cash.

The police subsequently searched eight premises to apprehend the two suspects, four in Bangkok, two in Samut Prakan, two in Chachoengsao, and one in Nakhon Ratchasima. Five other individuals connected to the accused were also brought in for questioning.

Chen and Anan were charged with colluding in public fraud and transnational crime, inputting false information into a computer system, and money laundering, all of which they denied.

Crucial player

After inspecting the cell phones confiscated from Chen, authorities obtained evidence that he was using an app to manage multiple digital wallets for a Cambodian call centre gang.

Chen lived in a luxury house, from which he hired a Thai nominee to purchase several properties in cash.

He was found to have a five-year visa, as he was a member of the Thailand Privilege Card scheme, formerly known as the Thailand Elite card.

The CIB is now focusing on criminals who enter the country with Thailand Privilege Card visas, as they have been known to use this type of visa to facilitate their entry and exit from the country.

It was also discovered that Chen’s wife and his three children, who are Thai nationals, were living in the country. Chen’s children were granted Thai nationality after he allowed his wife to register her marriage to a Thai man, who then became the legal father of the children.

The CIB, in addition to arresting offenders, also operates the Anti-Online Scam Operation Centre (AOC) which is a one-stop service centre of the Digital Economy and Society Ministry, tackling technology-related crimes, including online scams and fraud.

Despite the AOC’s efforts, many still fall victim to the tricks of call centre scam gangs. To prevent further harm, the AOC collaborates with Thai banks to monitor suspicious bank accounts and freeze questionable financial transactions. This collaboration has successfully averted many losses in real time.

With the police’s relentless pursuit, call centre scammers have now modified their strategy to use cryptocurrency. Therefore, the CIB now collaborates with banks, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and digital asset business operators to devise strategies to prevent similar incidents in the future, reported Bangkok Post.

Crime NewsThailand News

Ryan Turner

Ryan is a journalism student from Mahidol University with a passion for history, writing and delivering news content with a rich storytelling narrative.

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